Here is the list of resources we found useful on our long-term travel with kids. I plan to periodically update this list, so please check back before you leave on your trip! Also see my travel guide: 10 Steps to Traveling the World.
Note: A few of the items are associated with affiliate links, which means we get a small commission if you use them from here, and every little bit helps! Know that I only recommend products or services that we use and love!
Travel Health Insurance
World Nomads – This is our global travel insurance of choice, also recommended by Lonely Planet and highly respected. Not only can they replace a stolen camera, but they also cover your on-the-road illnesses, injuries, and emergencies (check details of coverage). We have med-evac insurance with them, which I highly recommend if you’re traveling anywhere in which there isn’t a decent, reputable hospital or clinic. When our son got a weird skin infection on his face, World Nomads painlessly covered the bill. The founders are traveling, global nomads themselves; they get it!
We mostly use these services to book our stays.
AirBnB.com – We use this service almost exclusively for most of our stays, especially those over a week long, to secure mostly apartments, houses, or condos, but occasionally also homestays or family hostels. We often end up becoming friends with our hosts, too! When you use THIS LINK you get $34 travel credit for your first reservation with Airbnb (for details, see the link)! Here’s the app in iTunes.
Hotels.com – A popular site for booking hotel rooms with a good selection of options.
Booking.com – Another good site for booking hotels. They tend to be more budget conscious than Hotels.com.
CityMaps2Go – This map app has saved our butts many times. It does not require a data plan or Wifi, except to download the regional map you need. Once the map is downloaded, it works off of GPS to show where you are and where you’re going. Street names are in both the local language and English. We’ve used it to show taxi drivers where we want to go and to be sure we’re heading in the right direction. (Note: It used to be FREE, but now costs $14; but worth it, though, as it includes tiny hiking trails which did not show on Google offline maps.)
Grab a Cab (Asia) – This service has proved very helpful in Southeast Asia, especially for getting a cab at locations where you can’t flag one down, or during times, such as rush hour, when it’s harder to find a cab who wants to go by meter. Here’s how it works: in the app, you enter your pickup location and your drop off address, and then it gives you a price and a list of cars and taxis that are close by. Then you click Request, and a car that is close by will either accept the request for the price, or you can offer a tip above price and see if you get a bite. (Pays by meter price.) It also includes Grab a Car and Grab a Bike options.
Uber (for private cars) – This app lets you hire a personal driver and car. It works in a similar way to Grab, above, except that those responding are personal drivers (generally), not taxis.
Seat61.com – This site will blow you away with the breadth and depth of useful, detailed information it has on catching a train just about anywhere in the world. It’s also well-maintained and updated.
Skype – Free or cheap phone calls (and video conferences) via the Internet.
SpeedSmart – Wifi on the road can be shaky. This app is great for finding out where in a room, or in the hotel, the Wifi is best, and how fast it really is.
Everyone has their preferences. These are ours.
Lonely Planet – We use the electronic versions of their guide books, which are interactive. Their city guides also offer offline GPS navigation.
WikiTravel – A good starting point for researching points of interest in a place.
TravelFish – Great, detailed advice and guidance for travel in Asia. Travel forums are included.
ThornTree – Lonely Planet’s chat forum, where you can ask just about any destination travel question, and other travelers will chip in to answer.
Vagabond Family – If you’re a nomadic, long-term traveling family, or want to be, this is a great community to connect to.
It’s a personal choice what electronics you bring. It’s useful to have at least one device on which to research and plan trips via the Internet, use Skype or FaceTime for cheap or free phone calls when you have Wifi, dump all those travel photos, and place electronic books so you don’t have to carry the heavy paper kind.
Note: If you’re a homeschooler, you can take advantage of Apple’s education discount when purchasing electronics with them.
Lightweight Laptop – Our choice is a Macbook Air. In addition to satisfying the needs listed above, we also use our computers for homeschooling, work, and admin tasks.
Smartphone, unlocked – Our choice is an iPhone. Not only is an iPhone useful for running the apps listed earlier, but in each country, we get a SIM card so that we can have a local phone number to make travel arrangements, and also for Pierre and I to speak to each other when separated. We also take advantage of its FaceTime feature to conduct free video conferences with all family and friends who also have Apple devices.
Notes: 1) Being able to swap out SIM cards, however, means that your iPhone is unlocked. Contact Apple support on how to do this. 2) You may need to wait until your contract expires, break it (as we did), or not have one in the first place by paying the full price for a new iPhone. (Or check out eBay for unlocked, used ones!)
Tablet or iPad – Our choice is an iPad. Useful for reading books, watching movies, playing games, or having the kids do their homeschooling.
Cables and chargers that go with the above equipment. Don’t forget these! We find it’s also helpful to have a short extension cord with lots of outlets on the other end to plug into.
Adapter – I love, love this one from Lifetrons, as it is a single adapter that works in almost every country! And it smartly includes USB plugins.
Flash USB drive. Useful if you need to print anything out at the local Internet cafe.
We do most of our homeschooling through the Internet. Here’s our list of those resources.
Healthy Sunscreen – When I first researched sunscreen, I was shocked to learn that chemicals in many “top” brands were actually more harmful than the sun! After testing many (they had to have healthy ingredients + rub in well enough not to leave your skin white like a ghost), I chose Thinksport and SWEAR by it for me and my family.
More packing supplies coming soon.
EASY-TO-USE PACKING LISTS HERE!